A Poetry Song to kick start our New Year’s Eve celebrations! All my gratitude to Tom Davis, a retired minister of music who created a musical score for my poem with a trio of musicians who play jazz, funk, and hip hop compositions. It was such a joy and honor to hear 30 local voices, accompanied by a string quartet from the Portland Symphony, with collaborating musicians on the piano, Native American drum, flute, and keyboard, perform this poem as a song in our little town of Bethel! Shout out to keyboardist @AnnaSysko, who co-wrote the music for this piece with Davis, rap soloist @JustinBondeson, and drummer @RileyKern. Happy New Year, Everyone! Let’s usher in 2021 with poetry, music, a sense of communion, and “Inter-Dependence!”
To hear more of Tom’s compositions, including the poems “Cloud Anthem,” “Complaint of El Rio Grande,” and “One Today,” visit http://tomdaviscompositions.com. You can even buy the CD if you fancy it!
The concert first aired on Public TV, March 18, 2018.
Inspired by the Declaration of Independence, the poem was written in 2018 to nurture our sense of unity, compassion, the humanity that binds us. Read and sing along! (Poetry karaoke?)
“Declaration of Inter-Dependence.”
Such has been the patient sufferance…
We’re a mother’s bread, instant potatoes, milk at a checkout line. We’re her three children pleading for bubble gum and their father. We’re the three minutes she steals to page through a tabloid, needing to believe even stars’ lives are as joyful and bruised.
Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury…
We’re her second job serving an executive absorbed in his Wall Street Journal at a sidewalk café shadowed by skyscrapers. We’re the shadows of the fortune he won and the family he lost. We’re his loss and the lost. We’re a father in a coal town who can’t mine a life anymore because too much and too little has happened, for too long.
A history of repeated injuries and usurpations…
We’re the grit of his main street’s blacked-out windows and graffitied truths. We’re a street in another town lined with royal palms, at home with a Peace Corps couple who collect African art. We’re their dinner-party talk of wines, wielded picket signs, and burned draft cards. We’re what they know: it’s time to do more than read the New York Times, buy fair-trade coffee and organic corn.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress…
We’re the farmer who grew the corn, who plows into his couch as worn as his back by the end of the day. We’re his TV set blaring news having everything and nothing to do with the field dust in his eyes or his son nested in the ache of his arms. We’re his son. We’re a black teenager who drove too fast or too slow, talked too much or too little, moved too quickly, but not quick enough. We’re the blast of the bullet leaving the gun. We’re the guilt and the grief of the cop who wished he hadn’t shot.
We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor…
We’re the dead, we’re the living amid the flicker of vigil candlelight. We’re in a dim cell with an inmate reading Dostoevsky. We’re his crime, his sentence, his amends, we’re the mending of ourselves and others. We’re a Buddhist serving soup at a shelter alongside a stockbroker. We’re each other’s shelter and hope: a widow’s fifty cents in a collection plate and a golfer’s ten-thousand-dollar pledge for a cure.
We hold these truths to be self-evident…
We’re the cure for hatred caused by despair. We’re the good morning of a bus driver who remembers our name, the tattooed man who gives up his seat on the subway. We’re every door held open with a smile when we look into each other’s eyes the way we behold the moon. We’re the moon. We’re the promise of one people, one breath declaring to one another: I see you. I need you. I am you.
How to Love a Country
A new collection from the renowned inaugural poet exploring immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues, and more, in accessible and emotive verses. Richard Blanco digs deep into the very marrow of our nation through poems that interrogate our past and present, grieve our injustices, and note our flaws, but also remember to celebrate our ideals and cling to our hopes.